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Helping Hands not Handcuffs

Feb 3rd, 2020 | Category: Peer Voices

“Oh my God ! My loved one has stopped taking her meds and now she is destroying all of my furniture in a rage. What should I do to help her?” 

When someone is going through a mental health crisis it must be remembered, they are sick and not necessarily dangerous. If you are concerned about the welfare of your loved one going through a mental health crisis calling the police may not have to be the first call. Police are trained to maintain control and order, sometimes by any means necessary. A frantic 9-1-1 call may be the catalyst to a lengthy ordeal that could result in almost anything except treatment for the condition that prompted the call. 

Given the current landscape in Texas in the intersection of mental health & criminal justice, the chances of getting an immediate and favorable outcome by calling the police are not good. Like playing the lotto – you could win, but don’t count on it. Police officers and jailers are not mental health professionals. Once they are brought into the situation, criminal justice begins, and treatment is usually suspended. Sometimes suspended to the point of worsening the mental illness.

To be clear, there are times when police should be dispatched. If you are concerned that your loved one may be legitimately about to harm themselves or others, they should be called without delay. Yelling, kicking, screaming, and destroyed property are not legitimate reasons to bring in the police. A calm (as possible) 9-1-1 call clearly stating “this is a mental health crisis” might be the best option.

Everyone, especially the loved one, would prefer treatment to be the destination, rather than jail and the criminal justice system.

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